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Flying to Heathrow from Portugal can now be a more serious crime than many rapes says Matt Hancock

Tom Winnifrith
Wednesday 10 February 2021

The Government’s latest covid travel restrictions are non-sensical, smash the young and the poor disproportionately and the penalties for flouting them are offensive. Matt Hancock, you are a disgrace.

If you enter the UK from a country classified as being on the Red List, as it has a surge in cases of a new variant of Covid, without agreeing to a 10 day quarantine in a grim airport hotel which will set you back £1750 per adult, you are in deep merde. The penalty can be a £10,000 fine and 10 years in the slammer.

To put that into context, the maximum sentence for sexual assault, as long as the victim is over 13, is ten years but nearly all those guilty get something between a community order and seven years. What about full on rape? Well if the offender is a first time offender, pleads guilty and shows remorse and no threats or imprisonment were involved then he will be classified as a category three rapist. And the sentence there is between 4 and 9 years.

So breaking Hancock’s covid laws which appear to apply even if you have been vaccinated and tested negative before flying is more serious than most rapes and all sexual assaults? Really? Mr Hancock and this Government has gone power crazy insane. This is wholly disproportionate.

Right now the 33 red list countries are mainly in South America or Africa but the list also includes Portugal. But here is a hypothetical question: what happens if in mid August with tens of thousands of Brits in Spain, Greece, France, Turkey or Italy, a new variant breaks out there? Do those countries get added to the red list at that point? If that happens, how will the Government find hotel rooms for all of those folks when they return and will not the possibility of a massive bill for staying at the Heathrow Travel Lodge for 10 days act as a real deterrent to folks going abroad?

Even if your destination stays off the red list, it seems as if you may need 4 covid tests to fly. One to gain entry to many places but, under Hancock’s new rules, you will need 1 to fly back and then 2 more once you re-enter Britain where you will have to quarantine at home for up to 10 days even if you have had the jab! So for each adult these tests will add at least £300 to the cost of your holiday. Natch, if you break these rules you will face four figure fines.

You might dodge some tests if you have had the jab so that means for this summer we oldies should be able to fly but young folks, at the bottom of the queue, may have more issues and costs. But the bottom line is that holidays will become massively more expensive and for those with jobs to get back to, utterly impracticable. For we rich old folks and people who can work from home this is a pain but the joys of escaping Boris Johnson’s lockdown Britain make it worthwhile. For the poor and middle class, for working families, Mr Hancock wants you to know that Margate really is not that grim on sunny days.

Lockdown power has gone to the heads of folks like little Hancock and his colleagues in Government. If he steps back and considers his new laws, does he really consider this punishment of the poor to be in any way fair? And does he consider someone breaking these draconian red list rules to be worse than a rapist?

As for MPs who are meant to be there to hold the Executive to account? They, once again, score a massive fail.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
[email protected]
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